Cooking Up Change in the New Year

Definition of CHANGE
Verb: to give a different position, course, or direction to…

There’s an old saying that the only constant in life is change, and it’s often true, especially in the restaurant industry. As 2017 draws to a close, I, like many of us am reflecting on the year behind us and looking toward the year ahead while focusing on the changes along the way.

I came to Fishbowl last January knowing that change was imminent – and since then, we have new owners, new leadership, new initiatives, and a renewed focus. I believe that the change my restaurant clients are going through is not all that different. Each of our successes rely largely on how we react to changing market conditions, where competition is so fierce and marketing strategies have to be constantly revised to keep up with current trends.

Managing Change

Change is necessary and inevitable to keep your business competitive, but major changes can also slow progress if not handled carefully. What are some ways to get your team on board, reduce the negative impacts of change, and focus everyone’s efforts on positive results?
Given this, I Googled “managing change” and got more than 720 million results. I then Googled “influencing change” and the output dropped to 53 million. While that’s still a lot of hits, I found the staggering difference between those two numbers quite interesting. What, after all, is the difference between “managing” and “influencing” change? Is it better to manage or to influence? Or do we really need equal parts of both? I think that “managing change” has a somewhat more passive tone to it, as if change is something that is out of our control, something that simply has to be coped with when it happens. “Influencing change,” on the other hand, gives the impression that we can guide the direction that change is going to take.

With the proper mindset and a little bit of strategy, I believe that we can both manage and influence change. And if we do both, won’t the results be even more powerful?

What Are You Changing and Why?

Change with a well thought out, well executed, all-inclusive plan rarely fails, especially when you can get the buy-in of your whole team. In order to do that, you’ll need to be able to explain to your team members what you’re changing and why and communicate who will be affected by the change and how they will be impacted. By encouraging every member of your team to participate from the start and by addressing their fears and concerns up front, you’ll build trust which is absolutely essential to successful change.
Just like in your personal life, if you want to change a habit, making small changes every day is more likely to lead to long-term success than trying to go all in all at once. The same holds true when it comes to changes within your restaurant. Before beginning on the road to any long-term change, talk to your team about the challenges change can bring, and really listen to what they have to say in return. Their thoughts and perspectives can be your roadmap to both influencing and managing effective change. Here are a couple of questions to spark the conversation about change.

Whose role needs to change?

Examine each team member and their roles, and imagine how those roles may adapt as you implement planned changes. Don’t forget to consider their interactions with customers, suppliers, and the competition.

What needs to change?

Before implementing a new change, consider all aspects of your business—technology, policies, procedures, infrastructure, staffing, training, etc.—and how they may be affected.

Where will this change occur?

The world is online, and changes have effects that ripple out far beyond the four walls of your restaurant. Consider how this change will occur across all platforms—from the kitchen of your restaurant to your website, social media presence, and your reputation in the industry.

Why are you changing?

Before any action is taken, you should come up with clearly defined reasons and goals for the change. Know how you will measure success and revise your strategy as dictated by the results. One good way to set goals that help lead toward success is to use S.M.A.R.T. criteria.

When will you start?

Start changing in very small ways right away. This will give you a sense of your team’s readiness. Once you are confident that your team is on board, that a solid plan is in place, and that necessary resources are properly allocated, you can begin your change without hesitation!

Of course, no matter how carefully we prepare, not every implemented change will lead to success. I have realized that we can learn just as much from our failures as we do from our successes. Ultimately, if we want to learn how to successfully change, we have to be ready and willing to fail a few times before we succeed.

This blog was written by Fishbowl’s Director of Strategic Accounts, Barb Young Vogt.